Shelly, dear... did you know that the sea would one day be worn about your neck and head? By way of four clam shells... pushed ashore by a wanton wave? Did you?? I know I hadn't thought of it. Just think of the route those ocean artifacts have taken, through surf and sand, desert and mountain-- through (who knows how many) landlocked states, all for the sake of becoming a necklace and a hat! (Looking a little like a saucy French maid, are we?)
Hmmmmm. I suppose one never knows what travels lie ahead...
(Note: I can't resist plopping something onto the head of the statue in my studio... Hee.)
I am looking at you now. In the form of a photograph taken when you were four-years-old. Long golden hair with eyes peeping out to a wondrous world beyond a knitted brim. Hmmmm. A glint of perfect health radiates across your dimpled smile ("say cheeeeese!") into the camera lens. You are gorgeous, OH-FOUR-YEAR-OLD!
Fast forward... you are gorgeous still, my lovely-at-fifteen. But did you know that you look even more gorgeous without make-up? (I saw you roll your mascaraed eyes. Now, as I usually say, roll them back the other way so you won't get out of balance...) It's appealing to wear make-up... to try on new pastels, to see all the drama that can be had when you draw a black line around your upper and lower inner lids. Or shimmy on some aqua eye shadow with sparkles. Or guava lip color. It's OH-SO-FUN!! And will remain forever so, as long as this "made-up" beauty doesn't become a crutch, or a habit. Ask yourself, "Can I leave the house without make-up and still feel like myself? Because make-up doesn't define who you really are. It never will. For you see... it can't. No amount of make-up can enhance your internal features. Your kindness; your intelligence; your smile; your forgiving nature; your love; your honesty; your wonderment- "how deep do you think that water is?"; your talents; your laughter colors your cheeks with a make-up not yet known to cosmetic counters.
The world is full of beautiful and hot girls (which is another topic altogether.) They are EVERYWHERE. Around every corner. At every school across this ominous planet. On every magazine page, in every movie and mall. Everywhere. But what is not everywhere, is the girl that is both beautiful on the outside... and on the inside. The girl that isn't afraid to be herself. Yah-yah-yah, I know... old stuff. Regardless. It is true. Most boys know this too, even though they like to look at all the beautiful and hot girls. And they like to talk about them... and often times pursue them... but rarely do they end up loving them forever. Sadly, rarely do these girls end up loving themselves forever either.
You've heard it all before, I know. (Remember to roll your eyes back the other way.)
We're grilling, eating, sipping, reading, writing, playing, working, idling, napping outside more than inside nowadays. Are you?? "Summer is my favorite month"-- ala Annie-- her fav is always the one we're in!! Handy, isn't it? It helps that all four seasons in Colorado have a raw, radical beauty. Including those darkly eclipsed days of January and February. (I know, I know... easier said than done- unless you're a snowboarder...) For right now... I'll simmer in the shade of some wildly bodacious sunshine.
Lingering sunrises; drive-in movies (boohoo-Cinderella City drive-in bit the dust this year;) potted plants; juicy homegrown tomatoes; pink grapefruit Ting soda in a glass bottle; outdoor candlelight; dark green patches of shade; a summer blockbuster; faraway thunder; evening air moving through the trees; that early bird; salads!!; teen volleyball games; lemons in all forms of yummy; homemade ice cream; seashells; sea foam sliding up a beach... okay, okay, the list could go on for eternity.... oh, but if only summer could...
If I was to write a travel book... it would most definitely be one about flower festooned balconies. There's one balcony in particular in Santa Fe that stuffs itself silly with flowers. (Remember, Thea?)
Flowered balconies stop me in my tracks, especially those with emblematic wrought iron scrolls embracing ivies, alyssum, petunias, maiden hair, geraniums.... against a pinkish stucco-- cracks encouraged... Big BIG sigh.
The thing is... I have some. Balconies that is... four to be exact!! Well, they are classified as French Windows, meaning they are second story French doors that open up to 3 ft wrought iron grills... ( just so's we don't fall out!)
Let it be known!! That this is the year of the balcony! Hah! And you thought it was the year of the Rat... Well it is still the year of the Rat, but it's also the year of the balcony. I'm going to festoon!
Aren't these lovely? I spotted them outside our sunroom window two floors up this past January. Chubby chunks of melt... Old Man Winter's beard.... a snow maiden's eyelashes... Nature's popscicles.... ice sculptures of carrots... a frozen pipe organ. Of course, the resident engineer took one look out the window and said... "a clogged gutter. "
I was sleepy, but I read it anyway. A Spring workshop presenter was looking for published authors to share their tips for writing children's picture books. As I drifted off to sleep I was pondering what would be on my list.... list.... list... (that's when I fell asleep.)
When I woke up, I had this list of tips:
Keep chocolate in your desk drawer. (I prefer 70% cacao... lah-dee-dah.)
Picture book writer's are on word diets. Celery, carrots, broccoli, maybe some whole grains, but remember make it YUMMY!! You do not have access to words like fromage or pate brioche. Dang. Keep it simple, BUT YUMMY!! (Average picture book length is getting shorter by the minute--under 1000 words-- but have you ever counted how many words are in Olivia??)
Trim-trim-trim... do not be afraid to trim. Sometimes your all-time, very favorite sentence doesn't move the story ahead. A wise, old editor (she really isn't old, just wise) once told me, "You'll use it, someday, in another story..."
It's okay to throw in a couple zingers for good measure. In my first book, Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots, (all 250 words of it!) I use the word "delectable" because, well because, it stretches children's vocabulary... Plus I couldn't find anything else that rhymed with "vegetables."
Think of yourself as Gumby!! You know, the little bendy guy that looks like the gingerbread man? Only Gumby's smarter because he's made out of a slab of stinky rubber, not yummy cookie dough, so... the sly fox isn't going to be interested in eating him up. Be smart (and bendy)-- editors, agents, publishers, friends, your mother, a little bird... are all going to give advice. Every single suggestion, whether it comes from the industry or the UPS guy, might just be the catalyst to something astounding.
Did you notice that all my tips so far, except one, have been food related? Geeez.
Have ears like DUMBO and HORTON. Listen to every teeny tiny word that children say. My daughter began saying wonderful things before she could officially talk. Mountains were WOWS and blankies were WEEEE's. (Long story.) My personal favorite, "When me looks at the moon, me sees a white banana..." That said, sometimes kids say things that become book titles!! I know mine did.
copyright 2008 all rights reserved carmela lavigna coyle
Well, that's easy... because I need to extrapolate. That's why. So there... humph.
Don't misunderstand. I LOVE LOVE LOVE writing children's picture books, it's so very refreshing and I get to be and think like a little kid all over again. It's the best job in the world. (That, and being a mom.) I get to "think" words like, pahlease and phew and poopy and yucky and yippy!! But, writing for kids is very challenging. You have, at best, 300-500 words to tell a whompin' good story. Every single word counts. No superfulous-ness allowed.
Now and then I yearn to go off on a tangent!! To spit words all over the page. Throw them into the corners and folds and outside of the margins. Giddy-up! Yah...